Championing a Better Future through Business

The GSMA’s ‘Champions for a Better Future’ initiative is bringing an ever-growing number of mobile industry leaders together who are committed to showcasing how understanding and responding to social, environmental and ethical issues is good for business. Through embedding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their core corporate strategies, our industry champions are cultivating a culture of responsible leadership and sustainable business practices designed for the digital age.

Today, successful leadership means recognising that purpose and profit are intrinsically linked. Indeed, there has been a marked societal shift in public expectation across every industry sector, as the advent of social media has enabled consumers to hold businesses to exacting ethical standards. A recent survey by Deloittefound 63 per cent of millennial workers said the primary purpose of business should be ‘improving society’ rather than ‘generating profit’.

This shift is being recognised across industry, most recently, by the Business Roundtable with their release of a new “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation”. Signed by 181 CEOs this new statement moves away from shareholder primacy and commits them to leading their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.

The mobile industry is increasingly being driven by leaders who are committed to our industry purpose – ‘Intelligently Connecting Everyone and Everything to a Better Future’. Our sector was the first to commit to accelerating the impact against the United Nations 17 SDGs – stating its intention and purpose to transform lives and protect the planet.Consequently, we are seeing a remarkable shift in the role mobile operators are playing in society, with trust coined as the new currency in the digital world. Operators are championing sustainable and responsible business practices, safeguarding consumer trust and reducing inequalities through digital inclusion. They are inspiring joint commitment and direct action; uniting private and public sectors, whilst improving the lives of billions of people.

Progressive leadership starts with prioritising the welfare of people and our planet, with an increasing number of CEOs giving this equal precedence with financial targets. Mobile industry leaders are changing the way business is done; demonstrating how to address the consumer, investor and policymaker demands of acting ethically and transparently within the digital age.

Leadership directly supporting the UN SDGs

Stephane Richard, Group CEO of Orange and GSMA Board Chair is firmly committed to ensuring digital inclusion for all. In fact, inclusion forms a major part of the mobile industry’s commitment to the SDGs. For example, SDG #5, Gender Equality, aims to increase mobile phone ownership among women in the developing world. Elisabeth Medou Badang, Senior Vice President Africa & Indian Ocean, Orange, has been a passionate spokesperson on the ways technology can drive digital inclusion and using Mobile Big Data solutions to solve some of the world’s most critical issues. With 44 million customers spanning 17 countries, Orange’s mobile connectivity can be uniquely leveraged to combat these global problems and reach formerly excluded communities.

At Safaricom, the SDGs serve as a blueprint to ensure a purpose-led approach is embedded within company objectives when rolling out services designed to have an impact on society. Stephen Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Safaricom is a Champion of SDG #4, Quality Education; highlighting how education in technology will empower the next generation to become better citizens of the world.Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke is also using his position to speed up the realisation of the Global Goals, through the company’s footprint across Scandinavia and Asia.

Digital Declaration

When the World Economic Forum declared urgent global action was needed to build a ‘Shared Digital Future’, a number of our Champions for a Better Future became signatories of the ‘Digital Declaration’, backed today by 60 CEOs. This GSMA-born initiative outlines the key principles required to nurture a digital economy and society that is trusted, inclusive and sustainable. Alongside mobile operators, the Digital Declaration unites CEOs from across industry sectors, each united in their commitment to acting ethically in delivering what matters most to digital citizens and governments. The mobile industry leads this agenda, stimulating inclusive growth and economic opportunities, through our global mobile networks that connect over 5 billion people.

Next-Gen Champions

‘Champions for a Better Future’ represents our industry-wide commitment to ‘Intelligently Connect Everyone and Everything to a Better Future,’ no matter where they operate. For example, Ammar Aker, CEO of Paltel is using mobile technology to offer young people, especially women, greater education and job employment opportunities in Palestine. Rachel Samren, Executive Vice President, Chief External Affairs Office and Mohamed Dabbour, Executive Vice President, Head of the Africa, both from Millicom, are driving opportunities through technology to meet the development gaps in the countries where they operate. A key component is giving women across the world the chance to become part of the digital ecosystem and gain financial independence.

Mobile operators represent their communities across both developed and developing markets and inspire next generation leaders to effectively leverage the power of connectivity to deliver real impact.Through a multi-stakeholder approach, our Champions are actively working with governments, international institutions and humanitarian organisations across global and regional platforms. These key partnerships allow our industry to accelerate and scale mobile initiatives to tackle the most critical challenges facing our planet and build a Better Future for all. Between now and 2030, the mobile industry will bring billions of people and things online. This will accelerate the progress in achieving the SDGs, enabling immersive experiences to enrich our lives and ultimately creating a better future for all

For more information on our Champions for a Better Future please visit: